FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Zoe Ades, Communications Director
COUNCILMEMBER PINTO STATEMENT ON THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE CLOSING MCPHERSON SQUARE ENCAMPMENT
Councilmember Brooke Pinto issued the following statement on the National Park Service closing McPherson Square to camping:
“This week, the National Park Service (“NPS”) announced that it will be closing McPherson Square to camping on February 15th. The challenges present at McPherson Square are not new – I have been working with service providers, the Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (“DMHHS”), community members, and NPS for months to address the unsafe conditions in the area and help ensure residents can be moved into safe and stable housing.
I recently visited McPherson Square to meet with Pathways service providers and hear directly from residents about their needs and what continued obstacles were still present. My visit confirmed to me that the continued growth of this encampment threatens the safety of the residents in the encampment and the surrounding community.
After months of engagement by outreach workers, 25 of the about 70 people living in the park have completed the housing assessment tool and of those 15 have been matched to housing. I am continuing to work with DMHHS and urging them to move with deliberate speed to expedite the applications of the 10 residents who have not yet been matched to housing and ensure they can be moved into safe and stable housing in the next two weeks.
Unfortunately, to date, nearly 50 residents have not yet been successfully engaged. I am hopeful that in the next two weeks, outreach workers can connect with these residents and get them placed in housing or shelters. I have asked the Mayor and DMHSS for daily outreach to residents and increased staffing, including prioritizing behavioral health experts, and staging busses to be set up at the site for these ongoing conversations and sharing of supplies. I will continue working with service providers, advocates, and the Mayor’s office to ensure every effort is being made to reach more of these individuals, develop trusting relationships, and get them into a safer situation. Getting people housed is the only long-term solution to effectively address encampments.”